The inattentive reader

 

I like the idea of reading books, being the type of person who reads books. Right now I have a stack of overdue library books I’m slowly working through. I don’t listen to music anymore either, except 80s hard rock and pop, and classic rock in my car. And I like the idea of listening to music as well. About six months ago my niece asked me what my favorite thing to do is. I said reading. She said, “I thought it was knitting.” I hadn’t brought any books with me for the visit but had brought a knitting project. I hope it’s just a phase. I did find copies of some of the Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey, which I’d loved as a teen at a bookstore while I was visiting them.

 

I was talking with a friend who said the fact that I have trouble reading books could be part of ADD. I do have a hard time remembered the beginning of a paragraph by the time I get to the end. I also have a hard time picturing characters. I have the idea that when other people read a novel they have a movie player in their head. I don’t know if that’s an accurate representation of how others read though.

 

It could be that if I was on ADHD meds in addition to the ones I already take, reading might be easier and more enjoyable. It could also be that I can’t understand or relate to many characters in novels. I tend to lead a passive and sedentary life. I go to activities daily, but when I get home I just shut down. That could be from the overstimulation of the world outside my door.

It’s hard for me to relate to characters who have goals. My main goal still is is to survive. I seek peace and a retreat from the world. That’s what people supposedly get out of books. I just encounter too many characters who want to get married or have careers, or even relationships. Or in fantasy who want adventure. Adventure in the form of crisis and drama seems to follow me everywhere. It could be that I’m not reading the right books, as in books I would really enjoy.

There are plenty that don’t follow traditional plot structure, and I have read those, both literary and genre.

One thing holding me back from finding books I truly enjoy is the pressure I feel to read. I’m not in school, so I don’t mean required reading. I mean like when I sat myself down and forced myself to read Gravity’s Rainbow because other people in the local poetry scene had read it, and I wanted to fit in, to emulate them. I have to keep trying to read to be the type of person I think I want to be. The type who doesn’t own a television. Who doesn’t like sports. Part of the literati, the intelligentsia.

I hate to admit that it may all boil down to wanting to impress others. And to be different from my mother whose mind contained nothing but God and Jesus, and who never read anything except the Bible. It was my father who first tried to keep me from becoming her. He bought me classic children’s books, ones that had won awards.

So yeah. Trying to please one parent by not being like the other, my soul and mind a battlefield. It makes it difficult to read for pleasure.

I didn’t bring up reading at my psychiatric appointment soon after getting my test results that say I’m on the spectrum and have ADHD. My resident opened the file on his computer and skimmed the results as we talked. Nothing else was done. Just medication refills. I still think books are good for me, like vegetables, even if I have a hard time with them.